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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
BY BRIAN SMITH, Jesuit High
Django Unchained has been hailed as Quentin Tarantino’s followup to Inglourious Basterds, another epic installment in the director’s canon, and a potential Oscar winner, with five nominations.
The film follows the violent escapades of Dr. King Schultz and Django, a slave bought and freed by Schultz, as they romp as bounty hunters across the South hunting down wanted criminals. Schultz and Django agree to locate and rescue Django’s wife, Broomhilda, played by Kerry Washington.
On the surface, the plot is pure action flick, a Western of the Deep South. But the heavy issues of racism, violence and slavery, and the cast’s incredible performances, especially Django’s final triumph, make Django so much more, a deeply affecting and enthralling film.
One of the film’s critical sticking points is its glut of harsh language and fearsome violence against slaves, bounty targets and plantation dwellers, a pointed reminder of the cruelty and power of the system from which Django wishes to rescue his wife. The violence reinforces this power and cruelty, vividly illustrating exactly the type of punishment Django, played by Jamie Fox, can expect if the doctor’s plans unravel, or if he fails to maintain composure at any point.
In one particularly gruesome scene, a runaway slave is torn apart by dogs. Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz, offers to buy the slave from plantation owner Calvin Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, to protect the man from the dogs, but Django quickly tells Candie that the offer was only an attempt to keep the group moving toward their destination. Schultz’s humanity is displayed and his discomfort with slavery becomes clear, but Django’s commitment to Broomhilda overcomes. The violence, as excessive as it may seem, is not gratuitous but always purposeful.
But at times, the purpose of Django Unchained becomes muddled and the story thematically confusing. Both Rick Ross and antiquated country-western music share the soundtrack, and light is made of white vigilantes struggling to see out of their hoods . The music and humor are welcomed respites but fail to clarify things.
Yet despite elements that would seem distractions or stumbling blocks in other films, the characters and plot are gripping throughout Django. Foxx makes the movie all his own, exquisitely seizing the movie’s focus. Perhaps this occurs on the journey to Candieland plantation or after Django’s first bounty kill, but Waltz’s smooth, easy portrayal of the German bounty hunter masquerading as a doctor gives way to Foxx’s intense, determined Django.
His is a character the audience wants to succeed. Django’s initial uncertainty in his new role as a free bounty hunter, illustrated by the bright blue clothes he picks out and his awkward first ride on horseback through a Southern town, grows into a steadfast commitment. This attachment makes Django’s victory, despite the often sickening torture, racism and countless killings the audience is forced to endure to reach it, an enjoyable and satisfying experience.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson
Rating: R, extreme language, violence
Running time: 165 minutes